What? What is essential to podcasting? That’s why you’re here, right? You want to know how to profit with your podcast. Let me share a secret with you: even magic potions have recipes. That’s right! Love Potion No. 9 is a recipe. It might smell like turpentine and look like Indian ink, but Madame Ruth mixed it up right there in the sink.
The road to profiting is a recipe, and everybody’s recipe is a little bit different. Luckily, creatively combining the various ingredients of a podcast is far less worrisome than creative cooking. In fact, it’s much less stressful, in my own opinion. Following recipes can be difficult; maybe you don’t have all the ingredients and have to hunt down substitutes, maybe you don’t have a utensil required, maybe you don’t understand what the recipe means exactly. Take, for example, this recipe from my mother (to the right). I was looking for my Nana’s incredibly yummy roll recipe in my mom’s recipe box and found this. I quickly took a picture of this notecard with my phone, put the box back where I found it, and left my parents’ house without actually reading it.
If you can’t read the handwriting, the last line of the recipe says, “Continue as with bread.” When I finally read this at home I smacked my forehead. Because of course that’s what it says, right? My family notoriously writes recipes with lines like, “Whisk in the usual way.” and “…add the same amount of egg whites as with meringue.” Not only do I not have the full recipe, I also do not have the instructions of how to form the rolls (picture to the left). And when I asked my mom, “Where are the instructions for forming the rolls?” She just said: “In Nana’s head.” Not helpful!!
Sometimes looking at the ingredients and the time it will take to actually reap the benefits of your hard work seems overwhelming. And sometimes it is (kneading is tough, let me tell you). But isn’t it worth it, in the end? If the answer is no, then you didn’t follow the recipe correctly.
We have to eat, so we keep cooking. We also have an innate drive to follow our passion, and so we keep podcasting. That’s why you’re here, right? You are intent on discovering what it takes to profit with your podcast. We’ve shared a lot of ingredients to profiting by podcasting over the last year, and this week Brian brings up a new ingredient in this week’s Profitcast that I am quite glad he addressed. I’ve actually been struggling with this very concept over the last couple days and have spent a lot of time trying to understand why I reacted so badly to someone’s criticism. I don’t like being hurt or angry, but I also am not used to being confused as to why I’m hurt or angry.
My first degree is in English and I have never, ever regretted that degree. I love the training it gave me to communicate through written words and to help others communicate more effectively. However, I started off as a journalism major. I entered college full time at 16 and joined the newspaper staff in my first semester. I was a lot younger than the other students on staff, and at least four or five years younger than the editor. I can’t really remember how decent I was at writing, but I wasn’t terrible. I’d passed all the tests required to enter into the college level English courses I was in, so I knew stuff.
I can still remember the first article I wrote for the newspaper. I can remember standing behind my editor as he sliced and diced that piece of paper in red ink. He hacked off every adjective, drew a line through every other sentence, and was grunting the whole time. Because my natural instinct is to believe everyone is smarter than me, I just assumed that I was a terrible writer. I assumed I was too young and that I was in way over my head. But then he finishes, turns to me and hands me the paper and says: “Good start, clean it up a bit.” I had no idea how to take that. First he slashes at my writing, then he tells me good start. Hmm. As I got to know him a little better, I discovered how to shave away his abrasiveness and see both the praise and the instruction he was giving me.
Being on the newspaper staff undoubtedly toughened me up, but it was only in obtaining my English degree that I truly developed the means to give and receive constructive criticism. I spent many, many courses in the write-read-critique-listen cycle. Write a story, read other students’ stories, critique their stories, then listen to a room full of students critique my own writing. That was really hard to do at first because, naturally, I become attached to what I’ve written and become defensive about why I chose to do XYZ to a certain character. But over time I learned that the trick is being able remove your own feelings from the mix and look at it objectively (through the minds of my classmates) so as to improve upon what already exists.
Brian brings up the somewhat popular blanket statement review that crops up a lot in podcasting: the content is not worthwhile. This is an extremely subjective and unhelpful statement that reflects more upon the person giving the review than it does about the podcast they’re reviewing. It’s not constructive because it offers the podcast no means to improve upon what they have and it isn’t useful because it forces other people reading reviews to rely upon the opinion of a reviewer named CaptainMal2001.
The internet has made us, as a society, bolder because we can now hide behind aliases. We don’t have to deliver the criticism to anyone’s face and no one has to know it was actually us who said that terrible, nasty thing. But Brian, and I, are here to tell you that if you hold to this belief, then you will undoubtedly suffer on the road to profiting with your podcast. Learning how to give and take constructive criticism might be the most important thing you do, both as a podcaster and as a person.
Have you ever heard of the Ideal Praise-To-Criticism Ratio? The trick, I’ve found, to constructive criticism is not withholding either praise or criticism, but finding a balance between the two. If you’ve ever been on the receiving side of criticism, you know it can be hard to take. Sometimes, when it’s delivered really badly, it can take a super long time for the true meaning to set in, and even longer to repair the damage done in the giver-receiver relationship. The Ideal Praise-To-Criticism ratio, I believe, first cropped up as Marriage Math, a concept developed by a psychology professor named John Gottman. He claimed that marriages fall into danger when positive to negative interactions fall to a 5:1 ratio. (Learn more in this article.)
In an ideal world, we’d be able to offer up the kind of praise-to-criticism ratio as this article explains (6:1), but it’s not an ideal world. My point here isn’t to even encourage you to strive for this ratio, it’s actually a lot more simple than that. There are three things that I think help in the delivery of criticism that transform them from abrasive to constructive and totally revolutionize the way podcasters interact:
1) Begin with positives. More than just stating the negatives, you have to state positives. Acknowledge what the other person has done well and do not be afraid to offer praise. You might call it softening-the-blow, but I think that it is natural for humans to be less mean or nasty when they take a moment to consider the object of their criticism as a real person with real abilities.
2) Avoid generalities, avoid references to gut feelings, and use words intentionally. In other words, provide specifics. Spend a little time reflecting on what you didn’t like and understand why you didn’t like it, before spouting off a bunch of things that just come into your head.
3) Don’t overwhelm them with a lot of negatives. Just like any influx of information, a human being can only retain so much at a time. Choose a couple key points, offer those up, and then let that person come back to you for more. Sometimes they’ll never come back, but sometimes they will!
My encouragement to you is to not be sucked in by the ease with which the internet provides us to be overly blunt and callous. Be mindful of how you word things, take the time to reflect on your comments, and think about how you can use each opportunity to build someone up. There is so much negativity in this world, let’s try tipping the scale back a bit, shall we?
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